Surviving suicide loss

For the person you lost, the pain is over. Now is the time to start healing yours.

A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide, Jeffrey Jackson

I discovered the term ‘survivor of suicide loss’ only when I lost my husband to suicide last year. Until then, death by suicide was something that happened to others. It happened in other families. Not in mine. People who died of suicide were faceless, nameless statistics. However, all these defenses crumbled when I had to confront the staggering reality of my loss.

A survivor of suicide loss is someone who has lost a person dear to them to suicide. A close family member, a dear friend, colleague or a health care professional (notably mental health professional) could at any point be a survivor of suicide loss.

You are a ‘survivor of suicide’, and as that unwelcome designation implies, your survival —your emotional survival — will depend on how well you learn to cope with your tragedy. The bad news: Surviving this will be the second worst experience,” writes Jeffrey Jackson, a survivor of suicide loss, in A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide.

Suicide, as we all know, is an intentional self-inflicted death. Edwin Shneidman, the pioneering suicidologist, vividly describes suicide as “psych ache” or intense psychological pain. Not surprisingly, mental health issues have been identified as a predisposing factor in 90 percent of deaths by suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, “the primary goal of a suicide is not to end life, but to end pain.” 

The statistics are indeed grim.

  • Globally, 800,000 people die of suicide every year
  • Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies of suicide
  • Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it
  • Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan
  • It’s the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally. 
  • The suicide mortality rate in India is 15.7  people per 100,000, and the regional average 12.9 (WHO 2015-17)

Death and the resulting emotion grief — the loss of someone we love — are universal experiences. However, a death by suicide, has been described as a death like no other. Suicide, like death by accidents, murder (homicide) and even unanticipated sudden death, is another form of traumatic death. However, death by suicide does not elicit the same level of compassion and empathy in people to support the bereavement process. This huge empathy deficit makes a survivor of suicide loss feel isolated and excluded.

The American Psychiatry Association (APA), says suicide bereavement is “catastrophic” and on par with a concentration camp experience. According to the APA, family members of individuals who die by suicide — including parents, children, and siblings — are at increased risk of suicide – almost 400 times higher than others.

Survivors of suicide loss are invisible and marginalised. They often encounter blame, judgment or social exclusion, while mourners of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age or other kinds of deaths usually receive sympathy and compassion. Thus, grief and the grieving process for survivors of suicide loss is complex and complicated. It is compounded by negative societal attitudes based on stigma, shame, secrecy and silence around suicide. This is because we tend to view suicide through a morality lens rather than a public health crisis and mental health issue, which it truly is.

“It’s strange how we would never blame a family member for a loved one’s cancer or Alzheimer’s, but society continues to cast a shadow on a loved one’s suicide,” writes Deborah Serani in Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss.

There is a strong sense of shame associated with suicide. Most survivors of suicide loss prefer not talk about suicide; of someone who died by suicide. We are deeply ashamed to admit this. Instead, we tend to create ‘acceptable’ explanations of the cause of death that we choose to tell others. If a loved one dies of suicide and someone asks us about the cause of death, we often tend to say, “It was a heart attack” or some other ‘natural’ cause of death that is socially acceptable.

We do not seek to glorify suicide; nor do we condemn it. People who die of suicide are not heroes; nor cowards; nor criminals. Suicide is not a crime. It is a public health crisis. It is a mental health issue that is treatable and preventable.

Such informed perspectives can change conversations on suicide and also ensure supportive spaces for survivors of suicide loss to rebuild their lives.

Dr Nandini Murali is a communications and gender and diversity professional. A recent survivor of suicide loss, she established SPEAK, an initiative of MS Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, Madurai, to change conversations on suicide and promote mental health.

https://www.whiteswanfoundation.org/mental-health-matters/suicide-prevention/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-survivor-of-suicide-loss

These are not my words, in any way. I am a suicide loss survivor. This year marks 21 years. I am still struggling. While looking for resources I stumbled across this and found it very in touch with reality. Even if this link does not give you the sources you need to heal, please keep searching. Keep working. Keep healing. In whatever way you can.

Scars in Heaven

If I had only known the last time would be the last time
I would’ve put off all the things I had to do
I would’ve stayed a little longer, held on a little tighter
Now what I’d give for one more day with you
‘Cause there’s a wound here in my heart where something’s missing
And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time
But I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now
I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven, yeah, are on the hands that hold you now
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, for the hands that hold you now
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see you
You live on in all the better parts of me
Until I’m standing with you in the sun, I’ll fight this fight and this race I’ll run
Until I finally see what you can see, oh-oh
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now

381

Scars in Heaven

Casting Crowns

When the memories hit

Lyrics for Heavy by Linkin park

I don’t like my mind right now
Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary
Wish that I could slow things down
I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything’s about me
Yeah, I drive myself crazy
‘Cause I can’t escape the gravityI’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy?You say that I’m paranoid
But I’m pretty sure the world is out to get me
It’s not like I make the choice
To let my mind stay so fucking messy
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning ’round me just the same
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning ’round me just the sameI’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy?I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning ’round me just the same
I know I’m not the center of the universe
But you keep spinning ’round me just the same
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything’s about meHolding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Why is everything so heavy?
Why is everything so heavy?

Reality bites

The reality of being a survivor is something that strikes me a lot.

The honest fact is that ‘survivor’ means something different to everyone makes that sentence bring something different to every readers mind.

The basic definition of the word is simple.

  • A person who survived, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.
  • The remainder of a group of people or things
  • A person who copes well with difficulties in life

Definition’s in the dictionary are great but it always feels different. They never seem to be able to describe what to expect the feelings to be.

That said I can’t even begin to explain how it feels different depending which thing I am feeling like I am a survivor from that day. That sounds crazy even to me.

But when it comes down to it, I am a survivor of a whole list of different things. As is every person alive.

That list can seem daunting but that needs to be something I chose to focus on in the near future to make sure that any of my past damage does not creep up to affect my future.

The biggest thing about being a survivor however is learning to move past it. Past the trauma. Past the events. Past the guilt. Past the feelings. Past the judgement. Past the pity. Past the expectation of what it should have been. Past the expectation of what could have been.

I think that is the hardest part. It doesn’t matter what type of ‘event’ happened. It’s the idea of forgiving yourself for letting it happen. Forgiving yourself for expectations. Forgiving yourself for not seeing it coming. Forgiving yourself for not getting over it as fast as people think you should. Or even as fast as you think you should.

Be kind to yourself. Accept the reality of it. It is your domain. It is your safe space. It will always be overwhelming. Break it down into peices. Handle the peices in the best way possible… for YOU.

Pick wisely

Staying alive while facing mental health battles seems to be a minute by minute choice. It’s the conversations that no one wants to have, but are more important than anything else you talked about today. There hasn’t been one moment in my last twenty years that I wasnt intimately aware of mental health. Between dealing with ever cycling emotions of puberty in my own body, and watching some of the others around me face battle deep inside.

Within that same timing I had my world flipped upside down because someone close to me lost the battle.

Talk to you lived ones. Listen when they chose to talk. You may be the only one they turn to.

That makes it all that much more important to chose the people you surround yourself with.

Make sure they are healthy for you, in the good times and the bad.

It’s okay

It’s okay

It’s okay to miss them

It’s okay to say their name

It’s okay to cry

It’s okay to breathe deeply

It’s okay to smile when you think of them

It’s okay to function

Its okay to have days where you cant function

It’s okay to be angry

It’s okay to be thankful

It’s okay to love again

It’s okay to remember

It’s okay to hope

It’s okay to be honest

It’s okay to trust again

It’s okay

It’s okay

It’s okay

Scribbles & Crumbs

❤❤381❤❤

19 years of surviving without him.

The unanswerable question

So I am not sure when they decided that September was suicide awareness month, but I am having a rough time with it. I am absolutely all for the surge of awareness for prevention, don’t get me wrong.

On a selfish note, the timing sucks.

The beginning of October will mark nineteen years since my life was forever changed. This is one of those weird situations where I feel selfish talking about how it affected me instead of how the family members were affected. I see his mothers posts on social media and it tears my heart apart to imagine what she is going through. As a mother, I fight trying to imagine the life that she has been  forced to live. As much as I love the woman, she makes me think of him too much and I have never been able to handle that. That makes me feel like such a bad human. She has done nothing but been amazing to me, but I get the feeling that I remind her of him as well. How do I fix that?

The boy that I knew deserved more then the life he lived to be cut short. I want to know the battles he faced. I want to go back and be able to talk to him more, have deeper questions and conversations, with a better understanding of mental health. He didn’t deserve to fight that alone. He didn’t deserve to feel like the world would ever be a better place if he weren’t in it. I think that’s what breaks me the most. The idea that this boy I loved, this boy that I considered my best friend, this boy that I was planning my life to revolve around, thought that we would all be better without him.

I know I was super young, and naïve. I know that there was lots of kids in the family so it is hard to get super invested in each kid the way you could if its an only child. I am also aware that teenagers do everything possible to not let parents in. He slipped through the cracks of a otherwise perfect family. Seriously this was the family that I was always jealous of. All the brothers and sisters, the always present parents and grandparents. Don’t get me wrong my family is amazing, but there wasn’t a lot of us and that family seemed like the big happy family that I always thought I wanted.

So how did he get away with committing suicide?

That question never gets easier.

There is never any answers either.

I still miss you

No matter how much changes in this life I will always miss you.

No matter how happy I become, how much I love my life now,or how much I love the people I chose to surround myself with…. I will always miss you.

It doesnt matter how long its been. It doesn’t matter if everything I kept to remind me of you is gone. It doesnt matter if I have forgotten the sound of your voice, or the exact mannerism you used to posess…. I will always miss you.

I closed the chapter. I opened another. I cherish every part to do with my life now. I still miss you.

Now I wonder if the version of you in my head is real or if its shifted into what I want to remember versus what I don’t want to, but I still miss you.

You live on. Even if you didn’t want to.

Mental Health Needs your help

Mental Health is not a joke.

Being a person that was born into a family that has not been kissed by any sever mental health disorders, it took me some years to start learning that most people around us have something affecting them daily.

It doesn’t have to have a big fancy name attached to it to mean something. So many people deal with situation depression, situational anxiety and so on.

It’s important to keep in mind that everybody is dealing with their own battles, and it isn’t your job to fix it. You don’t even really have to understand it.

The only job that you are tasked with is to be supportive to those that are battling.

They battle out loud just as much as the battle behind closed doors.

The stigma that surrounds Mental Health anymore is not going to be won in a macro sense until it is handled in a micro way.

That means that you and I have a job to do.

Everyone of us needs to stop staying quite when you see someone suffering.

Take that step. Offer to stand beside the people around you that are struggling.

Stop standing back and letting them battle in silence.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2017. 

Each year 47,173 AMERICANS die by suicide. 

There is 1,400,000 Suicide attempts in 2017 alone. 

Suicide costs the United States $51 Billion annually. 

Men die of suicide 3.5 times MORE than women. 

In 2017 firearms accounted for 50.57% off all suicide deaths. 

There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. 

An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors. 

The average age of the of suicide victims? 

MIDDLE AGED WHITE MEN

 

Some stay.

Watching someone close to me go thru the gut wrenching realization that they now will always be considered suicide survivor is horrifying.

You are numb as you get told.

You go thru the motions for a while. Checking the correct boxes for things that need to be done. Sure you have moments that you breakdown. But the long term reality of it doesnt come for some time.

And then it does.

People have all left. They all stepped away thinking that you will be fine since you have been such a rock thru it all this far. They tell you to call if you need them, but you wont.

They wouldnt be able to handle the questions that you need answered.

People all want to say that they can help, but unless they are there in the pits and shallows with you, they don’t get it.

They can’t.

All I want to do is help them. I’ve been there. I want to share the secrets that I have learned along the way.

It wont work however.

Everyones story is different.

Everyones guilt is different.

The process is different.

So until you can talk to me about your process, I will just keep showing up. Sometimes with coffee, sometimes for movie dates, other times to help you clean your house when you’re that low.

Because I cant walk away like so many did to me.

I can’t.

So I will stay.